March 2002 News

Omar says use POTO for 'border terror' only

22 March 2002
The Indian Express

NEW DELHI: THE use of the POTO ordinance must be limited to international terrorism and cannot be used in situations of domestic communal strife and tension such as in Gujarat, Minister of State for External Affairs Omar Abdullah told The Indian Express today. Speaking over the telephone from Dakar, Senegal, Abdullah said the reason the National Conference abstained from the Rajya Sabha vote on POTO yesterday was because it feared the bill could have been 'misused, especially in Gujarat.' To deal with domestic strife, Abdullah said 'normal laws' must prevail. POTO, he added, could be used only in the context of cross-border terrorism. Referring to The Indian Express report that all those booked in Gujarat against the Godhra attacks were Muslim, Omar pointed out that, in the subsequent violence not one Hindu was picked up under the same legal framework. 'You can't seek to make rules in such an arbitrary manner,' he said. 'The minister admitted that the NC's. abstention also indicated 'degree of tension within the NDA about what happened in Gujarat as its aftermath in Ayodhya.' still, he pointed out, the NC would support the government on the bill during the Joint session of Parliament on March 16. Abdullah insisted that in a partnership alliance like the NDA. it was not uncommon to have different points of view, but that was not to say that the parties did not have their 'concerns.' Nevertheless, it was not as if the NDA was 'bursting at the seams' or that it looked like the government's rug was being pulled from beneath its feet, Abdullah added.


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